Story by PSSN Kitara Byerly, 7 Naval Construction Regiment Public Affairs
GULFPORT, Miss. – Capt. William (Bill) Whitmire, commanding officer of Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC), Gulfport, Miss., officiated the start of the 2017 Seabee Mud Run on Sept. 9.
The crowd of military service members and their families gathered early in the morning and waited for morning colors to sound around the base. As the Star Spangled Banner played over the loud speakers, race participants silently faced the American flag hoisted by the fire department on ladders four stories above the starting line.
Many of the participants had Seabee friends and loved ones away on deployments, and had come to compete in their honor. The annual mud run is a Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsored fundraiser for the Seabee Ball, and overall had 1250 participants that day.
Whitmire geared up the runners, started the race with a bang, and then changed from his working uniform into PT gear to run the course himself.
Participants and spectators got a good taste of Mississippi mud this year. The course was a 5 mile run with about two miles of that distance spent in mud obstacles. Runners had the best team in the world to build their course. Seabee construction workers had dug the pits in “Dozer Field” on the NCBC Gulfport. Runners had to navigate sloops and balance on logs across shallow ponds.
To the Seabee kid in everyone that likes to play in the mud it did not disappoint. The race gave new meaning to the Seabee nickname, “Dirt Sailors.”
Local middle schools and high schools brought in busloads of JROTC students. Teams of kids that spanned Army, Navy and Airforce JROTC from Biloxi and Blount, Miss. competed with each other on the run.
The race was supported by NCBC chiefs and officers offering water at first aid stations. Security was provided by the Navy and the installation fire department was on hand to provide safety and provided a means to help Mud Run racers “wash up.” Registration for next year’s race begins in April 2018.